Is cheap really affordable or is cheap just cheap?

Is cheap really affordable or is cheap just cheap?
We didn't have a lot of money growing up and I remember replacing my cheap, broken shoes every 3 months. It felt frustrating. I remember feeling the same when specifying materials for my projects to meet budget as an architectural graduate.

Is cheap really affordable or is cheap just cheap? Building materials have a lifecycle that spans from extraction to disposal, and it's important to understand how to design for durability to reduce waste. This simple concept below changed my life:

The 'Total Cost of Ownership' means understanding the sum of all costs incurred throughout a product's life cycle, including production, maintenance, replacement, and disposal costs. It is a more comprehensive approach to evaluating the cost-effectiveness of building materials beyond their initial purchase price. For example, a $200 per square metre material might work out to be cheaper than the $75 per square metre option at year 5. Invest now, save later.

Here are 4 simple questions you can ask when choosing materials to give your clients another compelling reason to fall in love with your design vision.

What is the expected lifespan of the material? (Resene is known to have great resources for their products)

What is the cost of installation and maintenance over its lifespan? (Ecoglo Inc. is a great example)

What is the cost of disposal or replacement at the end of its lifespan? (Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore - great example)

Are there any environmental or health impacts associated with the material that could result in additional costs or liabilities?

By using durable building materials you can create buildings that look sexy, and feel great, last longer, require less frequent renovations and ultimately reducing waste and environmental impact.

Might use the above argument to convince my wife to get me my next pair of Allbirds! Haha.

Lastly if you found any of this useful, I run a green building materials company called Critical. and we're passionate about supporting brands, architects and designers create beautiful and sustainable spaces using 100% plastic waste. If you would like to request a materials sample box or have a kōrero, reach out by sending me a DM!
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